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Hybrid work model to be new norm for IT

The decision regarding staff’s return will hinge on factors such as criticality of the work, vax status and location (Photo: Hindustan Times)Premium
The decision regarding staff’s return will hinge on factors such as criticality of the work, vax status and location (Photo: Hindustan Times)

The companies, however, plan to follow a hybrid model allowing some to work from offices and the rest to continue operating from homes. Such decisions would hinge on factors such as criticality of the work, vaccination status and employee location, according to senior company executives

More employees are set to return to working from offices instead of homes at India’s top IT companies as covid cases decline and vaccinations gain pace.

The companies, however, plan to follow a hybrid model allowing some to work from offices and the rest to continue operating from homes. Such decisions would hinge on factors such as criticality of the work, vaccination status and employee location, according to senior company executives.

Software services firms, one of the biggest employers in India, currently have less than 5% of their workforce coming to offices.

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), India’s top software services firm, will ask employees to come to work once the pandemic is over as social interactions are a necessity, Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran said at the TCS’s annual general meeting last week.

“I do want to make the point that people need to meet people. It is a social necessity," he said.

TCS, which has 97% of staff working from home, has drawn up a risk-assessment model to evaluate the return of some employees to offices. This will assess factors such as their vaccination status, place of residence, risk factors in the region and other health parameters.

However, the new normal will be a hybrid model where some employees will work from home and some from office, Chandrasekaran said. This is in sync with TCS’ Vision 25/25 unveiled during the first covid wave. By 2025, only a quarter of TCS’ workforce will operate from offices at any time, with associates spending only a quarter of their time in office. And within project teams, only 25% of staff can be co-located.

Infosys Ltd will make a small number of employees return to the workplace depending on client criticality and location-specific public health status, said Richard Lobo, head of human resources at the firm.

“Our approach to return to work has been balanced, with a tilt towards employee safety and well-being. We continue to have 96.5% of our workforce operating remotely and we are not envisaging a sudden shift from this mode till the pandemic situation stabilizes and vaccines are widely deployed," he said.

At Infosys, too, the future of working is expected to be hybrid. “Technology and smart scheduling will have a big role to play in ensuring that the workplaces are used meaningfully so that collaboration, ideation, team bonding and casual interactions can happen in an enriching way," said Lobo.

Wipro Ltd has extended its work from home advisory till 31 August. “We will take a decision on extending work from home closer to date and firm up our return to work policy in due course after taking into account the pandemic situation," Wipro said in a statement.

Nasdaq-listed Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp., which has the bulk of its workforce in India, will be looking at a phased approach to returning its employees to office—as much as 99% are currently working from home.

“We will assess and execute a work model that will be most beneficial to our clients while creating more flexible and collaborative work environments for our associates. We will use a phased approach to bring employees back, depending on the business requirements and, based on our learnings, scale up operations as needed," said Shantanu Jha, senior vice-president, human resources, Cognizant India.

At Tech Mahindra Ltd, more than 95% of employees are currently working from home and this is expected to continue until the pandemic situation normalizes. “The pandemic has disrupted business models and working dynamics, introducing us to a hybrid work model," said Harshvendra Soin, global chief people officer and head of marketing, Tech Mahindra.

Multinationals such as IBM Corp. have extended the remote working advisory for employees across all locations in India till 31 August and a return is planned in a phased, data-driven manner. “IBMers will return to workplaces with data-driven, evidence-based practices and policies that safeguard them," said Chaitanya Sreenivas, HR leader, IBM India.

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